Altering American Consciousness
The History of Alcohol and Drug Use in the United States, 1800-2000
Explores the changing perception and use of drugs in American culture
Virtually every American alive has at some point consumed at least one, and very likely more, consciousness altering drug. Even those who actively eschew alcohol, tobacco, and coffee cannot easily avoid the full range of psychoactive substances pervading the culture. With many children now taking Ritalin for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, professional athletes relying on androstenidione to bulk up, and the chronically depressed resorting to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as Prozac, the early twenty-first century appears no less rife with drugs than previous periods.
Yet, if the use of drugs is a constant in American history, the way they have been perceived has varied extensively. Just as the corrupting cigarettes of the early twentieth century ("coffin nails" to contemporaries) became the glamorous accessory of Hollywood stars and American GIs in the 1940s, only to fall into public disfavor later as an unhealthy and irresponsible habit, the social significance of every drug changes over time.
The essays in this volume explore these changes, showing how the identity of any psychoactive substance—from alcohol and nicotine to cocaine and heroin—owes as much to its users, their patterns of use, and the cultural context in which the drug is taken, as it owes to the drug's documented physiological effects. Rather than seeing licit drugs and illicit drugs, recreational drugs and medicinal drugs, "hard" drugs and "soft" drugs as mutually exclusive categories, the book challenges readers to consider the ways in which drugs have shifted historically from one category to another.
In addition to the editors, contributors include Jim Baumohl, Allan M. Brandt, Katherine Chavigny, Timothy Hickman, Peter Mancall, Michelle McClellan, Steven J. Novak, Ron Roizen, Lori Rotskoff, Susan L. Speaker, Nicholas Weiss, and William White.
Alcoholism and Gender in American Modernist Fiction
"Greatly enriches our understanding of the history of drug use in America, with particular reference to the ways that changing social attitudes intersect with legal, medical, and political aspects of addiction. . . . A welcome addition to the field.""—Nicholas O. Warner, author of Spirits of America:
Intoxication in Nineteenth-Century American Literature
"This delightful volume represents a careful admixture of skillfully edited, high-quality, and richly documented contributions to the analytic history of American experiences with alcohol and drugs. The scope of the collection is expansive. Unlike many conference-based volumes, this one succeeds in getting the authors to engage with each other in ways that build coherence and resonance. . . . Overall, this volume helps constitute a convivial and cross-generational conversation."—The Journal of the History of Medicine
"In an age of uncertainty for drug science and drug policy, that makes Altering American Consciousness a must read."—The Journal of American History
"This edited volume started life as a set of conference papers, delivered in 1997, on the subject of the history of drug use in American society. Out of this has grown a book that aims to sweep across the geography and the history of American to offer an informed view of changing attitudes and responses to drug use. . . . this is a readable and enjoyable text."—Criminal Justice Review
"In a very comprehensive manner it deals with the way that the society in America has dealt with a wide range of drugs, including alcohol. . . . Despite its American basis I would strongly recommend this book, particularly in relation to the concepts of societies attitudes to readers in the United Kingdom."—Alcohol and Alcoholism